Stuart Bathgate: Selection troubles ensure no rest for Levein
ONE of the perks of international management is supposedly the lengthy break you get between matches. While club bosses may become entrenched in a long losing run, those in charge of their countries can leave a one-off game or a double-header behind them, whatever the results, clear their heads, then start preparing for the next fixture.
Unfortunately, Craig Levein does not look like getting any rest at all, as even when Scotland are not playing, a flurry of unwelcome news comes his way. There’s the Steven Fletcher saga for a start.
Even those of us who believe that, by and large, the manager is in the right on this one have to accept that the Sunderland striker’s run of good form makes his continued omission more awkward by the week for Levein. If Fletcher were no good, or patently less able than Kenny Miller, it would not be an issue; instead, he keeps popping up with goal after pesky goal.
Then there’s Kris Commons. When the Celtic player was first left out of a squad by Levein, there was a case based firmly on his loss of form – after all, he had also been dropped at club level.
But now Commons is back, and certainly on Saturday at Motherwell played somewhere close to the form he was in two seasons ago. Levein’s contention that there are several men ahead of Commons in the pecking order will be increasingly implausible if the player keeps it up.
The manager’s assistants have not been having an easy time of it either with their clubs. Peter Houston’s prospects of being offered a new contract at Dundee United cannot have been improved by his club’s two most recent results – two losses with a cumulative total of seven goals conceded and none scored. And at Motherwell, Kenny Black has suffered two losses in four days.
At this rate, getting back to the national squad next week for the Wales game will come as a more than welcome break for all concerned.
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